Congratulations, Sandra Jansen and Lucia Siebers, on the appearance of your book, and to Raymond Hickey in whose honour it was published! As for Morana and me, we’re very happy that it is out, and in my case, just in time to change the only “forthc.” in the proofs of my book Describing Prescriptivism (Routledge).
Morana Lukač and Ingrid Tieken-Boon van Ostade (2019). Attitudes to flat adverbs and English usage advice. In: Sandra Jansen and Lucia Siebers (eds.), Processes of Change. Studies in Late Modern and Present-day English. Amsterdam: John Benjamins. 159-181.
Proofreading my forthcoming book Describing Prescriptivism, I came to p. 100 where I mention that Caroline Taggart’sHer Ladyship’s Guide to the Queeen’s English (2010), published by the The National Trust, used to lie for sale in country houses all over Britain. That is, I remember seeing it lying about at every country house we visited while living in Cambridge in 21011. Unfortunately, I never thought of taking a picture of the book as evidence at the time.
This time, accompanying a Jane Austen garden tour last week as an academic tour guide and visiting several country houses in the process, I looked everywhere for Her Ladyship’s Guide, but to no avail. None of the shop assistants had even heard of the book. But we did find one of Caroline’s books, on two occasions even: 500 Words You Should Know. Not a usage guide, and not published by The National Trust, but still (I suppose) testifying to Caroline’s name and fame as a writer on language.
Being a fan of Nancy Mitford, and having read the Mitford sisters’ entire correspondence (ed. Mosley 2007) as well as their biography by Mary Lovell (2001), I was naturally curious about The Mitford Murders by Jessica Fellowes, the more so since its translation was favourably reviewed in the Dutch press. So I decided to buy the 420-page book and take it with me on holiday. What a disappointment.
Not only did it read like a Young Adult Novel, the characterisation of young Nancy Mitford in no way matched that of the real person in as far as I had become acquainted with her.
What also irritated me was its linguistic anachronism, evident from the regular use of snuck (for sneaked) in the text, as in
He had snuck out wearing a tweed cap, which Nancy had snatched out of the boot room (p. 272)
The story is situated in 1919-20, when snuck would not have been common usage in British English yet. In 1988, Greenbaum and Whitcut in the Longman Guide to English Usage label snuck as “American English only”. It is not until twenty years later that, according to Jeremy Butterfield (Oxford A–Z of English Usage, 2007), snuck is “sneaking into British English in a big way too”.
I’m afraid I’m not looking forward to the next three novels in the series, each featuring one of the remaining Mitford sisters.
Just out, and yes, the book includes a paper on prescriptivism, my own! The project may be finished, but new publications still appear. So:
Ingrid Tieken-Boon van Ostade (2019), Usage guides and the Age of Prescriptivism. In: Birte Bös and Claudia Claridge (eds.), Norms and Conventions in the History of English. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.7−28.
This volume is only one of two: congratulations, Birte and Claudia, on this wonderful publication!
In 2007, The Dutch Taaladviesdienst (a language advice service run by Genootschap Onze Taal) published Taal top 100, a collection of the 100 most popular usage problems in Dutch, in the fields of spelling, grammar, lexis , punctuation and style. The preface opens with an interesting sentence: “Taaladviesboeken zijn er genoeg – het ene nog completer dan het andere.” In English: “There are plenty [Dutch] usage guides – the one even more complete than the other.”
In an English context, such a sentence would have provoked a lot of comment, the same kind of protest as that found for very unique. After all, words like complete and unique are so-called absolute adjectives, that cannot be modified by very or more, or so the argument goes. And indeed, one of the few Dutch letters to the editor I encountered was on “rather unique”, tamelijk uniek. So I was surprised to find this particular form in a language advice manual from what is arguably the most authoritative language advice body in The Netherlands.
So here is a question specifically directed at our Dutch readers: what about morecomplete? Do you find it acceptable or not? Please fill in the poll below and let us know.